African Press International (API)

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EXCLUSIVE: Poverty list blocked after MPs protest – Kenya

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2008

ByKENNETH OGOSIA and BERNARD NAMUNANE

In Summary

  • Constituencies that previously were ranked as the poorest in the country have suddenly shot up the table
  • Kajiado North is richest constituency with 10.7 per cent below poverty line, while Turkana Central is poorest with 96.9 per cent.
  • The document, acknowledges the transformation in previously poor areas has been inspired by the CDF
  • Prof Nyongo: I think somebody fed the wrong data into the computer.”

A new Government report on ranking parliamentary constituencies on poverty index has been withheld after some MPs complained that their areas were not projected as poor enough.

Some constituencies that previously were ranked as the poorest in the country have suddenly shot up the table to upstage the traditionally well-off areas, prompting the MPs to complain that the report was rigged.

The fear that their constituencies will get less Constituency Development Fund (CDF) money if found to have fewer people living in poverty.

Inspired

The document, entitled Constituency Report on Well-Being, acknowledges the transformation in previously poor areas has been inspired by the CDF.

A copy of the report obtained exclusively by the Nation shows that many constituencies that previously were top of the poverty tables, and thus eligible for more CDF money, are now ranked among the wealthy. Contacted on Thursday, Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya said: I cannot comment about what has not been launched because we are harmonising the document following complaints by MPs on matters that anybody can see are mistakes.

Mr Oparanya and Medical Services minister Peter Anyang Nyongo agree with MPs who claim that the report could have been skewed to favour some constituencies in the allocation of CDF money.

Ironically, Mr Oparanya wrote a laudatory forward in the report, which has already been printed, before changing his mind and shelving it after the complaints by MPs.

Rocket science

Prof Nyongo, who served as Planning minister from the beginning of 2003 to November 2005, dismissed the new report: I think somebody fed the wrong data into the computer. Statistics is not rocket science to change Nyatike into a richer constituency than Rongo or Muhoroni, he told the Nation.

Contacted, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics director general, Mr A.K. Kilele, expressed shock that the Nation had a copy of the suppressed document. Who gave you the report? The minister has not launched it and you want to put me into trouble. I will not comment on what I dont know, Mr Kilele said.

Mr Oparanya was at a meeting in Kisumu last month when members of Parliament from Nyanza complained that their constituencies were depicted in the rankings as having moved out of the poverty bracket.

The minister agreed and promised not to launch it in its current form.

The MPs, led by Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, Nyando MP Fred Outa and Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, claimed that the report was skewed to reduce their CDF allocations.

Mr Midiwo said they would not accept the report and a new survey had to be carried out for the true reflections.

How can Nyatike be richer than Eldoret or even Rongo and Muhoroni in Nyanza itself? That is playing politics with the economy, Mr Midiwo said.

Mr Oparanya agreed to shelve the report. Thousands of copies already printed on expensive glossy paper were returned to a strongroom.

The report based the poverty line on the percentage of households unable to afford the cost of a basic basket of goods that can meet the minimum nutritional requirements which are set at 2,250 calories for each adult in a day.

The cost is estimated at Sh1,562 and Sh2,913 per month in rural and urban areas respectively. Those who fell below that line were ranked as the poor.

Suspicion was raised because in an earlier report released in 2005, the 10 wealthiest constituencies in the country were in Central Province.

They were Kikuyu, Kiambaa, Limuru, Mathira, Githunguri, Ndaragwa, Othaya, Tetu, Kiharu and Mathioya in that order.

The poorest constituencies were Ganze in Coast Province, Kitui South in Eastern, Kaloleni, Kinango (both Coast), Bonchari, Kasipul Kabondo, Kuria, Ndhiwa and Rangwe (all in Nyanza).

In the new report Kajiado North is the richest constituency with just 10.7 percent of the people below poverty line, followed by Kajiado Central, Kajiado South, Westlands, Kabete, Kiambaa, Ntonyiri, Langata, Embakasi and Starehe.

The poorest constituencies are Turkana Central with a shocking 96.9 per cent living below the poverty line, followed by Turkana South, North Horr, Saku, Wajir North, Wajir South, Mandera Central Turkana North, Kinango and Mandera East.

In the suppressed report, previously poor constituencies such as Bondo, Rarieda, Lamu East and Lagdera are now among the richest.

The report shows that the rate of absolute poverty declined from 52.2 per cent in 1997 to 46 per cent in 2005/6 yet two million more Kenyans have joined the ranks of the poor.

In provincial rankings, the report shows that the richest province is Nairobi followed by Central then Nyanza, Rift Valley, Eastern, Western, Coast and North Eastern.

In Nairobi the number of poor is shown to have reduced from 43.9 per cent in 1999 to 22.0 per cent by the date of the report. Central registered very low improvement from 31.2 in 1999 to 30.9 today while Nyanza improved from 64.5 poor to 46.5; Rift Valley registered a marginal decline from 47.9 per cent to 48.7 per cent.

Eastern improved from 58.3 per cent to 50.5 per cent and Western from 60.8 to 53.1 per cent.

Resource allocation
Coast Province also registered a decline from 57.8 per cent to 59.0 per cent; while North Eastern retained its spot as the poorest region in the country with the number of poor rising from 64.2 to 74.0 per cent.

In the forward to the shelved report, Mr Oparanya said the data would be used to allocate CDF to all constituencies and can also be used for resource allocation in development planning.

The report recommends that the formula used for allocating CDF be reviewed with a view to getting rid of the discrepancies that have emerged since the fund was established in 2003. A total of Sh34.2 billion was allocated to the fund between 2003 and 2007.

Instead of giving all constituencies 75 per cent of the allocations equally and the remainder on the poverty index, the report wants the allocations to reflect population.

In the five years of CDF implementation, some sparsely populated constituencies received transfers equivalent to almost Sh18,000 per person vis--vis under Sh900 in the heavily inhabited constituencies, it states.

Richer

The report shows that Bondo and Rarieda constituencies are richer than President Kibakis Othaya constituency; while Nyatike, a semi-arid area is reported to have overtaken agriculturally-rich constituencies such as Nakuru Town, Molo, West Mugirango and Kitutu Masaba.

The new report also shows that some constituencies previously ranked well-off are now among the poorest.

They include Saboti, Kwanza, Mt Elgon, Mumias, Lurambi, Lugari, Cherangany, North Mugirango, Sotik, and most of the Central Province constituencies like Juja, Mathioya, Kiharu and Mukurwe-ini.

The 76-page report is based on the 2005/2006 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey was all set for launching before Mr Oparanya shelved it.

————–

API/Source.nation.ke

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